When Reepal Dalal was studying law at Boston University, she often faced a frustration most Bostonians are familiar with — the traffic that precedes a Red Sox game.
It’s no secret that parking in Boston can be a headache, but when you have to battle with those heading to a baseball game, it’s even worse.
As Reepal’s husband Aashish Dalal explained, finding a parking spot near class on game days was a near-impossible feat. Reepal would end up driving around in circles, having to maneuver around the T and the traffic.
She came home one day and told him, “there’s got to be a better way.” So he created one.
Aashish is now the founder and CEO of ParkWhiz, an app that lets drivers book parking spots in advance. The Dalals moved to Chicago after Reepal finished law school, and ParkWhiz made its debut there in 2006. Now, the parking app is officially available in Boston.
“Boston is our big first outreach with regards to expansion,” Aashish said. “Boston University actually became our first customer.”
So how does ParkWhiz work? The company connects with operators, like parking garages and lots, and lets drivers “book” a space ahead of time. Aashish said each spot is guaranteed to be reserved; after booking, users are sent a digital parking pass they can show via their smartphones for validation.
Users can compare prices across facilities and search for specific amenities, like if you want valet service for your date night, or a secure garage as opposed to an open surface lot, or even the option to tailgate if you need parking for, say, a football game. The app also calculates how far you have to walk from parking spots to your destination.
“We also have integrations with partnerships, integrated directly with [users’] experiences,” Aashish said. “One of the obvious ones is Ticketmaster. Say you’re going to House of Blues in downtown Boston — you book a ticket on Ticketmaster … and we’re able to offer, through Ticketmaster, options to park [nearby], powered by ParkWhiz.”
Aashish said expanding to Boston was an obvious choice, not just because his wife’s driving experiences here actually inspired the app.
“When we surveyed drivers in all major cities, Boston drivers said the cost of parking major was a headache, almost 81 percent,” he said. “That really stood out.”
Along with ensuring you get a space, ParkWhiz can save you money, he said. Rates for a downtown Boston spot can be as low as $17 for an eight-hour workday and the company will offer deals in the future focused on congested areas, like Back Bay, Fenway Park and the Theatre District, that it says will save drivers up to 50 percent off of standard parking rates.
Aashish said Boston drivers can choose from more than 5,500 parking spots over about 100 garages through his app, and he’s working to add more inventory. ParkWhiz has already been available in Chicago and New York and the Boston expansion is the first of more to come, he added.
To celebrate the Boston expansion, the company is launching “Random Acts of Parking,” a campaign that will award Bostonians with free gifts like theater tickets, a dinner for you, or paying for a parking ticket. That campaign begins Nov. 20 and will last four weeks; check out parkwhiz.com for updates.